Monday, January 11, 2010

Follow up on Reader Question

A few days ago I posted about a reader who was concerned about using Noodler's Nakahama Sepia in their Lamy pens. Many readers have responded with advice and ideas and I had one reader email me with some good ink advice. I asked if I could post his response and he obliged.

In response to your request, I've no experience with that ink but with lots and lots of inks in general (and I used to sell pens and inks). It's so easy to fall in love with an intense, deeply saturated color. And if you're willing to never leave your pen filled without use for more than a day or two and you will flush it thoroughly after every fill and clean it with a solution of mild ammonia and cool water followed by a cool water rinse, then jump right in.

It's the same advice I give anybody who uses Noodler's ink, by the way. I've found Diamine inks to be trouble free; Private Reserve inks are usually pretty good but some are intensely colored and come with the same cautions as Noodler's; all of the inks from manufacturers of pens tend to do well with Parker, Sheaffer, Aurora, Pelikan, Pilot-Namiki and Sailor being among the best. J Herbin Fountain Pen ink (not the calligraphy and other inks) is great. Other brands I've had less experience with but my general rule is that inks you've never heard of should cause you to pause. Inks you've not tested in a pen you'd not be sad to never be able to use again shouldn't be used. That deep rich color comes at a price and the price is often stuff that can harden to concrete inside the feed and collector of a pen. I've seen some lovely vintage pens require searches for new feeds and parts after having Noodler's and Private Reserve left in them for a short while without use. At best, a trip to a skilled repair person with an ultrasonic machine may be in order. And I know several skilled repair people who will void the warranty on their work if a pen has had certain inks used in it.

I use some of the intense inks--including Noodler's and Private Reserve--but I know that risks and responsibility come with those. The risk is that your pens can be stained permanently and the responsibility is to practice good maintenance to ensure your pen will not have these inks dry out in them and cause problems. I would never use these inks in a clear (demonstrator) pen and I would be careful about using them with light-colored pens--particularly white ones.

I don't mean to scare you off from any ink but, then again, I mean to scare you off from untried, unknown quantities. Like I said, if it's from a pen manufacturer, you're good to go. Sailor and Pilot-Namiki make wonderful inks, by the way.

By the way, my favorite inks are vintage ones--Parker Quink, Sheaffer Skrip, Carter's, Waterman's and Sanford inks from the 1940s-1960s. They work wonderfully and come in some interesting colors. Main concern there, by the way, is to make sure that nothing is solid in the bottom of the bottle and to check for mold--smell usually gives that away. If those aren't present, I've had great luck with vintage inks.

Richard Jarvis

I want to thank Richard and everyone else that has responded. It means a lot to me and has hopefully been helpful to other readers. Nr